science fair sponsored by the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS). The fair took place at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where, just five years earlier, Governor George Wallace had tried to prevent two black students from enrolling at the school by standing in the doorway of the auditorium.
After graduating with Williamson's last segregated class, in 1969, Johnson attended Tuskegee University on a scholaship
Johnson attended Tuskegee University on a scholarship. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1973, and two years later he received a master's degree in nuclear engineering from the school.
Johnson moved on to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1979, working as a systems engineer for the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, before returning to the Air Force in 1982.
completed a prototype one night in 1982 and decided to test it in his bathroom. He aimed the nozzle into his bathtub, pulled the lever and blasted a powerful stream of water straight into the tub. Johnson's instantaneous and instinctive reaction, since shared by millions of kids
In 1989, after another seven years of tinkering and tireless sales-pitching, during which he left the Air Force to go into business for himself, Johnson finally sold his device to the Larami Corporation. The "Power Drencher" initially failed to make much of a commercial impact, but after additional marketing efforts and a name change, the "Super Soaker" became a massively successful item. It topped $200 million in sales in 1991, and went on to annually rank among the world's Top 20 best-selling toys.
After tinkering with the invention of a high-powered water gun, Johnson's Super Soaker became a top-selling item by the early 1990s.
The inventor had been seeking additional royalty payments from 2007 through 2012.
Johnson and his wife, Linda Moore, have four children. They live in the Ansley Park neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia.
2011, he was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.